Immunisation is for life
The first CLCI blog has been prepared by Gary Finnegan, Editor of Vaccines Today
Vaccines help to keep us healthy throughout our lives – life-course immunisation is graining momentum in public health policy
What comes to mind when you think of vaccination? If the answer is infant immunisation against measles, polio or pertussis, you are only partially right. The days when vaccines were just for kids is long gone. Today, immunisations are recommended throughout life, protecting us against infectious diseases.
Take adolescence, for example. The HPV vaccine, typically given to young people aged 12 and 13 years, provides substantial protection against cervical cancer, genital warts and several other diseases caused by human papilloma viruses.
In some countries, catch-up campaigns are reaching out to adolescents and young adults who missed out on their two MMR vaccines. Meningitis vaccination is offered to teenagers in several countries and regions, helping reduce their risk of death and serious illness from a deadly disease.
Vaccines are also strongly recommended by experts – including the WHO, national health authorities and medical professionals – during pregnancy. Flu and whooping cough/pertussis vaccines, for example, are offered to women, helping to keep them and their babies healthy.
Adults can avail of travel vaccines before jetting off to exotic locations on holiday or business. And, should you work in a healthcare setting, the chances are that you’ll be offered immunisations to protect you and vulnerable people from infectious diseases like influenza.
Older people are another key target group for vaccination against flu, pneumococcal disease and shingles in several EU countries.
This message is beginning to take hold among health experts and policymakers. Italy’s revamped ‘Calendar for Life’ is among the most comprehensive in the world. In revising its calendar to incorporate the latest scientific evidence, scientific societies worked with government officials to develop a fresh approach that offers protection to people of all ages.
A comprehensive report published last year called on the EU to embrace vaccination for citizens of all ages. It highlighted the benefits to individuals, public health and the socioeconomic impact of embracing a life-course approach to vaccination.
As national governments and European leaders focus on maintaining a healthy population – and collaborate through the Joint Action on Vaccination – now is the moment to come together to ensure that all citizens benefit from the protective power of vaccination.
The CLCI will play an active role in raising awareness of life-course immunisation by engaging with decision-makers and the wider public to shift perceptions.